May 3, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC - The Atlantic Council today will announce two ambitious new initiatives:  the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

The two centers will significantly expand the Council’s focus on advancing greater transatlantic cooperation to address emerging security and economic challenges.  “These new initiatives underscore our mission of renewing the Atlantic Community to tackle the most crucial global issues of our times,” said Senator Chuck Hagel, Atlantic Council chairman.  “Through this work, we also embrace President Obama’s recently stated vision for the transatlantic community as a ‘global catalyst,” he added.

Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe will formally introduce the two initiatives at the organization’s annual awards dinner this evening, marking the beginning of the Council’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration. The keynote speaker will be Vice President Joe Biden and awards will be presented to Admiral Jim Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, and the great tenor and opera director Plàcido Domingo. The Scowcroft Center, which will begin its work next year following a capital campaign, will considerably expand the Council’s longstanding work on international security issues. Named for two-time National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, the Center will reflect his legacy of principled, consistent non-partisan foreign policy leadership in close cooperation with transatlantic allies and global partners.

General James L. Jones, President Obama’s former national security adviser and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, will serve as the Scowcroft Center’s founding chairman. George Lund, chairman of Torch Hill Investment Partners, will serve as the founding vice chair.

The Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East will begin its work at a time of dramatic change across the region. Named for the Lebanese Prime Minister who was slain in 2005, the Center will reflect Rafik Hariri’s efforts to rise above the region’s sectarianism and promote innovative policies to advance economic and political liberalization, sustainable conflict resolution, and greater regional and international integration.

The Center will endeavor to more closely bind the Middle East with North America and Europe by bringing together the best ideas and expertise from all three regions. Among other initiatives, the Hariri Center will name senior fellows from the Middle East and North Africa – and from Europe. It also will build a transatlantic network working closely with partner institutions throughout the Mideast, Europe, and Russia. The Council will also appoint an advisory board of leading players from those regions.

“This is a historic moment for the Atlantic Council,” said Kempe. “General Scowcroft not only embodies our mission, he also has been instrumental to the Council’s remarkable growth over the last four years and its renewed dynamism. General Scowcroft was national security advisor under both President Gerald Ford and President George H.W. Bush, when he was a steward of German and European unification and the Cold War’s peaceful end.”

General Scowcroft has served as the Council’s International Advisory Board chairman since 2006, has been a board director for more than 30 years, and was chairman of the Council from 1998 to 1999.

General Scowcroft said, “I am proud to be associated with this new exciting chapter of the Atlantic Council’s history at a time when the world sorely needs renewed and innovative transatlantic leadership. Closer Euro-Atlantic cooperation won’t solve the world’s problems, but it’s a precondition for addressing them effectively.”

The Scowcroft Center will work closely with the new Hariri Center, and General Scowcroft this evening will introduce Bahaa Hariri, late prime minister’s eldest son, a prominent business leader, and the founding sponsor of the center. “I am proud to support the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East to ensure my father’s legacy at a time when the region is experiencing such historic change,” said Bahaa Hariri. “The future of our region is greater convergence with the United States, Europe, and Russia, not divergence, and we believe the Hariri Center can find practical ways to advance that vision.” 

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